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Brazil and the United States

Convergence and Divergence

Joseph Smith

Publication Year: 2010

Although Brazil and the United States have long regarded each other sympathetically, relations between the two countries have been adversely affected by geographical distance, language barriers, and cultural indifference. In this comprehensive overview, Joseph Smith examines the history of Brazil-U.S. relations from the early nineteenth century to the present day.
With the exception of commerce, notably the coffee trade, there was relatively little contact between the countries during the nineteenth century. A convergence of national interests took place during the first decade of the twentieth century and was exemplified in Brazil’s strategy of “approximating” its foreign policy to that pursued by the United States. In return, Brazil expected economic gains and diplomatic support for its ambition to be the leading power in South America. But U.S. leaders were cautious and self-serving. Brazil was treated as a special ally, according to Smith, but only at times of major crisis such as the two world wars.
As the twentieth century progressed, friction developed over programs of U.S. financial assistance and efforts to deal with the threat of communism. Recently there have been disagreements over Brazil’s determination to take its rightful place as a global economic player and regional leader. Nonetheless history reveals that these two giant nations of the Western Hemisphere share national interests that they realize are best served by maintaining a friendly, cooperative relationship.

Published by: University of Georgia Press

Series: The United States and the Americas


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pp. vii

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pp. ix

I wish first to thank Lester Langley for inviting me to do this book and be a contributor to his much acclaimed series. It has certainly been a hard assignment, but completion was greatly assisted by Lester's guidance and encouragement. I am also grateful to Mike Conniff, who read the manuscript and gave me his expert advice. ...

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pp. 1-6

To the people of the United States, Brazil has historically been regarded as a distant and virtually unknown country--stereotypically a tropical land of palms, coffee, and carnival and whose racially mixed society has more in common with Africa than the Americas. Contact between the two countries has long been made difficult by geographical remoteness, adverse trade winds, and different languages, history, and culture. ...

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CHAPTER 1. The South American Empire

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pp. 7-29

"Brazil is, next to ourselves, the great power on the American continent," remarked the U.S. minister to Brazil, James Watson Webb, in 1867.1 That observation, however, did not reflect the special historical relationship between the two giants of the Western Hemisphere. ...

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CHAPTER 2. From Empire to Republic

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pp. 30-54

"Altogether, it seems to me," noted the U.S. consul-general at Rio in 1888, "that we now have an opportunity such as seldom occurs for extending our trade."1 The vigorous promotion of commercial relations with Latin America was a salient feature of U.S. diplomacy at the close of the nineteenth century. ...

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CHAPTER 3. The New Era

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pp. 55-80

"It is just," commented a Rio newspaper in 1905, "that the United States should receive us from now as equals in the guarding of the destinies of the American continent."1 A convergence of national interests during the first decade of the twentieth century meant that the diplomatic relationship between Brazil and the United States was visibly strengthened. ...

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CHAPTER 4. The Republic under Threat

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pp. 81-106

"Around us there has grown up the absurd legend that we are an ambitious and capricious people who are trying to assume the leadership of the continent," commented a Brazilian newspaper in 1925.1 During the 1920s, while the Brazilian republic experienced serious political instability, including notably the revolt of the tenentes (lieutenants) and the fourteen-thousand-mile...

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CHAPTER 5. The Global Crisis

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pp. 107-129

"Brazil must stand or fall with the United States," President Getúlio Vargas reportedly told his cabinet at a meeting to discuss the global crisis in January 1942.1 The friendly sentiment was warmly welcomed and reciprocated by leading U.S. officials. For some time they had been disturbed by the fascist sympathies displayed by Vargas ever since the establishment of the Estado Novo in 1937. ...

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CHAPTER 6. The Cold War

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pp. 130-162

"I am asking," declared U.S. Congressman William C. Cramer in 1963, "that no further U.S. loans be made to Señor Goulart's government until the Communists are cleaned out of it."1 Throughout the 1950s Brazilian diplomacy sought U.S. financial assistance to fund large-scale projects for industrial development and economic modernization. ...

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CHAPTER 7. The Rise and Fall of Military Government

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pp. 163-189

"Brazil is not a country that is open to external influence with regards to its internal politics," commented Harry Shlaudeman, the U.S. ambassador to Brazil from 1986 to 1989.1 In the aftermath of the 1964 coup, the United States was unable to moderate the repressive policy of a succession of Brazilian military governments. ...

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pp. 190-195

In October 1994 U.S. officials welcomed the victory in the presidential election of Fernando Henrique Cardoso over Luis Inácio "Lula" da Silva, the organized labor leader and candidate of the left-wing Partido dos Trabalhadores (Workers" Party). A former college professor and finance minister, Cardoso was well regarded in the United States for implementing the financial measure known as the "Real Plan" that had achieved considerable...


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pp. 197-223

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Bibliographical Essay

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pp. 225-233

There are many works on the history of U.S. relations with Latin America, but relatively few specifically deal with bilateral relations between the United States and Brazil. For a long time the only single-volume study was Lawrence F. Hill, Diplomatic Relations between the United States and Brazil (Durham, N.C., 1932), a fine example of traditional diplomatic history that concentrated on relations during the nineteenth century and ended at the beginning of the twentieth century. ...


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pp. 235-243

E-ISBN-13: 9780820337333
E-ISBN-10: 0820337331
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820327693
Print-ISBN-10: 0820327697

Page Count: 228
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: The United States and the Americas